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Tools

Facebook OG Debugger Tool (#21)

Have you ever been on Facebook scrolling through the wall and see someone’s post linking to an article? You probably saw the message your friend shared when he or she posted the link, followed by a large image that seems to represent the page. Below the image are the article’s title and the first line of a description (shown truncated with ellipsis if it is too long.)

Here’s a post in my feed shared by Senator Elizabeth Warren about the housing crisis.

Notice the large image, above the website’s domain, above the headline of the article, above a portion of the intro text.

Today we’re going to cover how to set all of that for your page. In fact, there isn’t much you as the marketer do— this is a job for the web developer. When your CMS or blog correctly publishes what is known as “open graph” tags, all of this information is set for you: the image, the headline, and the description.

Meet the Facebook Open Graph Debugger, also known as the Sharing Debugger.

These things can be examined, debugged, and re-scraped if you want to clear Facebook’s cache. That’s correct: this unique tool both lets you examine how Facebook looks at your page and will display the preview when shared.

In particular, you’ll note that by default Facebook only re-scrapes and looks for changes to this URL once every 24 hours. However, if you use this tool, you will actually be making Facebook re-scrape the page in realtime (near realtime), which will affect the previews for all users across Facebook.

That’s an interesting quirk to be aware of.

For developers, the open graph protocol is documented here. In short, the HTML markup of the page should contain meta tags which determine how Facebook (and other social networks like Twitter) pull the preview content and display it.

Take for example this example from Facebook’s developer documentation. Notice there are 5 open graph tags: og:url, og:type, og:title, og:description, and og:image.

These five element insturct social media platofrm how to display the preview in the social media feed.

You will notice that both the title and description appear in the preview box, but sometimes the description is truncated for size, as is the case with the example above.

What great about the OG debugger is that you can use it to correctly confirm that your webpage is generating the right tags. Also, if Facebook scrapes it once (for example, if you share it in your Facebook timeline), remember that Facebook won’t re-scrape it again for 24 hours unless you use the OG debugger tool. When you do Facebook re-scrapes the content — changing the cache for all users of Facebook — immediately.

Beucase the preview is stored within the post, you’ll want to make sure your OG tags are correct before you start to publish or promote your article or page to social media.

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Tools

Mention (#20)

Another tool for Social Media & Trend Analysis: Mention.

Moreso than other’s I’ve explored in this series, Mention’s selling point is that it proactive monitors your interests (by specific topic, celebrity, a political issue, cause, etc).

Mention.com

Its first few steps require a bit of up-front knowledge about what you’re looking for, as it asks you this right away:

In the Feed view, we can see a mailbox-like view of all the places where this topic is picked up across the internet.

We add a filter by source and language

Specifically for a brand, we can tell mention our social media pages and profiles. Mention will create a feed showing any time someone mentions these social media accounts in their own timeline.

Insights

A “last 7 days” view gives us a trend over time view of how this topic changes.

Mention is the "be the first in the know" tool to get alerts and insights into how your topic of interest is being talked about online. This early warning system can give you braod overview into where your topic is mentioned online and on social media.

All-in-all, Mention seems like a slick tool for a specific brand to use but leaves some features to be desired for competative research.

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Tools

SEMRush (formerly QuickSprout) (#19)

Everyone advertising online needs to learn about sites similar to their site. This is so you can figure out how to out-do your competition in search rankings (SEO) and keyword advertising (pay-per-click).

In a crowded marketplace, it’s often the case that short, 1-to-3 word keywords are already heavily associated with high ranking websites.

Three little keywords like “little black purse” that drive a ton of traffic to people selling purses. Very few except the ones who have been in the marketplace for a long time will be able to be at the top of Google.

But how do you understand where there are opportunities to be had in what people are searching for?

Enter QuickSprout, a tool to “let your competitors do the work for you.”

QuickSprout appears to have been purchased and rebranded as SEMRUSH. However, the original Quicksprout landing page greets you with this deceptive search box. (Warning: the search doesn’t actually work; you can type anything or nothing in this box and click ‘Start now’ and the website still takes you to the long-scroll landing page you see below.)

Then, before you are required to sign up for the free trial with a credit card, you are greeted with a good dose of marketing ideology and schmooze by being led through several pages of high-octane ad-buying theory. I’ll just leave it here for you to read for yourself.

Today we’ll research the keywords “pet supplies” to see what people are searching for related to their pets.

From here we can see people are searching for pet supplies plus, pet supplies, pet supplies near me, pet supplies plus coupon, pet supplies store, etc. (No surprises there.)

In the Keyword Manager, we can create a list. (Let’s call it “pet supplies”)

It is empty by default:

We then add keywords to this list to create a composite view.

Gap Analysis

Let’s take a quick look at the Keyword Gap Analysis tool. Here I want to look at the clothing brand Uniqlo versus four competitors: H&M, DemandWare.com, FastRetailing.com, and Express.

The keyword analyizer shows is a visual Venn diagram of the overlap between these brands.

If my brand were lacking in significant keyword traffic as compared to the others, this tool would tell me what keyword gaps I have in my traffic (where I could be more competative).

SEO Writing Assistant

SEMRUSH also includes an SEO tool to analyze my text. When I give it the text of this article, it scores me with a 5.9 out of 10, giving me advice that the text is too short, it is missing a headline (it is not actually), and that I should add the keywords ‘digital marketing,’ ‘search results,’ and ‘search engines.’

There’s a ton of more features too: cost-per-click views, saved reports, site auditing, backlink auditing, and social media auditing.

Semrush is a powerful tool if used in the right way: it can let you slice and dice your SEO and ad spend to gain insight into where you can have a strategic edge.

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Tools

SpyFu (#18)

In ad buying and organic optimization, there are two critical acronyms you should familiarize yourself with: SEO, which stands for “search engine optimization,” is the art of positioning your content and its associated buzz in ways that get you optimal organic search results. In other words: to the top of Google.

PPC is a term used in ad buying and it means “pay-per-click.” Since most ad buying networks rely on a model where you pay only when someone clicks (or engages) with your ad. You don’t pay for all the times the ad network displays your ad but people don’t click or engage with it. That’s why it’s called “pay-per-click.”

When you’re buying ads, you need to be paying attention to your competitor’s position in the marketplace.

Analyzing their spending is critical, as is understanding gaps in the way they are advertising. This will give you get a competative edge when you are purchasing ads for your campaign or websites.

SpyFu lets you spy on your competitor’s SEO and PPC and helps you identify opportunities in your keywords or search traffic.

Let’s take the popular video calling app Zoom as an example.

First, a breakdown of the competitors to this website, and how they get traffic. Remember, organic always means people typing search queries into search engines; paid refers to traffic from advertising (that is, an ad is shown after a search is performed).

Here are the primary competitors to Zoom:

Next, SpyFu draws you an actual Venn-diagram to visualize the overlap between these sites (based on the keyword traffic):





Next, we get the keywords— organic & paid, associated with this domain.

We see the top pages that are driving traffic to this website:

SpyFu analyzes the keywords between these competitors and then intelligently recommends whether you should buy that keyword now or not. (Presumably, by analyzing the supply-demand ratio of the market for those keywords.)

We get a glimpse into the AdWords marketplace specifically, which is Google’s ad platform.

The monthly Pay-Per-Click overview shows us a chart over time. This interesting data point shows us that Zoom conferencing, which took over during the COVID pandemic of 2020, appears to have had a significant drop-off in paid advertising right at the beginning of April 2020, just when its popularity took off because of everyone working from home.

Next, we get a breakdown in paid advertising by keyword, which also shows a drop-off in April. (Notice the little bars indicate that Zoom stopped advertising all but two keywords after April.)

SpyFu lets you literally spy on your competition. See what keywords are driving organic traffic and how much they are paying for paid keyword traffic.

If you’re doing paid keyword advertising, especially on Google, this tool is an invaluable resource for understanding the marketplace you are competing in and how to get the most bang for your buck.

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Tools

Ahrefs Backlink Checker (#17)

Ahrefs refer to the html tag known as the anchor tag (also known as a link), a very common tag developers and non-developers alike recognize:

<a href="www.google.com">Google</a>

This is how to make a normal link on a website. A backlink is a link from someone else’s website to your website. Thus, the Ahrefs Backlink Checker is a tool you use to see all the other links on the internet back to your website.

This page has a wealth of information, including multiple rating & scoring metrics for the domain.

Let’s explore some of the column heading here, which describe both what you are looking at and provide and provide some education into how the tool works.

The DR is the Domain Rating

UR rating is URL Rating

The Referring Domains is a count of how many unique referring domains link back to your domain. The traffic column is an estimate of your organic traffic (search results) came from that backlink. (That is, how much organic search traffic the referring page has.

Finally, the Anchor & Backlink column shows the anchor text of the backlink (That’s what people actually click on.)

Ahrefs Backlink Checker has even more tools too: competitive analysis (find out what keywords your competitors rank for that you don’t), email alerts, batch analysis, and broken links too.

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Tools

Google Search Console (#16)

Switchings a little to tools you can use to analyze your own website, today we start with a free tool to help you understand how Google is crawling and indexing your website.

Today’s tool is Google Search Console.

To use GSC, you’ll need to go through verification. This makes sure that you actually own the website or domain in question. There are two strategies for verificiatin: Domain and URL-based.

If you want to claim the entire domain and your website has subdomains associated with that domain, then using Domain authentication is easiest but requires access to your DNS records.

Start here by entering your domain name.

Next you’ll need access to your DNS or Domain Name Server settings.

Once you are verified, your GSC will begin to collect data.

Here is the overview screen where I can see how many people clicked from Google searches to my website in the last 4 months

As well, the “Coverage” area is telling me that when Google crawls my website, it finds 448 pages with successful responses and 15 that are unsuccessful.

This is so useful for finding broken pages, because you can drill down into the broken pages and see exactly which pages are returning non-successful results. It shows this to you in a chart over time, which can, in my case, help me catch problems in my WordPress blog.

In my case, I can see that some pages recently (in June & July) started showing broken links. Here I can see what my broken URLs are so that I can go fix them. (Be right back!)

On the Performance tab I can see my impressions (that is, the number of times my site came up in search results) as compared to clicks.

Down below, it even shows you what people were searching for that led them to your website.

While many of the other tools featured in this series have been helping you do competitive research, this tool provides you with the insight only available to the person who owns the website. And these aren’t approximations like some of the other tools featured— Google is actually showing you true results from its massive search infrastructure that powers Google searches.

Removals

Sometimes you put something up that’s a mistake. Sometimes you write something on your blog that you regret. Many savvy observers know there is a “Google cache” that will hang on to some content that allows removed content to still be visible to the internet “in the cache.”

For the most part, most web operators will let Google re-crawl their site and make updates as necessary. Often this is fine: Google is smart enough to crawl you site more often if it changes more often, and less often if it changes less often, thus the time that the old content lingers in the cache typically is not a problem.

With GCS are two powerful tools: Removing a URL or clearing out the cache of its content (forcing Google to do a re-crawl). You need this if you accidentally put up embarrassing content.

First of all, know that the first step is to actually take the content off of your website. (Like, really remove it.) If you want to remove an entire page (URL), you would remove the content from that page, make the page either return nothing or an error and then use the GCS remove tool to remove the URL. Alternatively, you can use a standard robots.txt file to tell Google not to index a URL (be sure to do this in addition to blocking the URL in the GCS interface as shown here)

If for some reason you want to leave the content up but not have it show up on Google (for example, it is semi-private), you would use a robots.txt file instead of removing the content to instruct Google not to index the URL. If you had accidentally forgotten to do this —that is, something you intended to be semi-private shows up on Google search — you would fix your robots.txt file first and then use the GCS interface here to “temporarily” (they say “for about six months”) tell Google to block that URL from showing up in search results.

Cache Flushing

If you have content that you have changed but for some reason Google’s cache doesn’t seem to be keeping up with your changes, you can also use the GCS to tell Google to clear out the cache and re-index your page, shown here.

Google Search Console has even more features than I’ve been able to cover today, including web vitals, mobile usability, and a way to see your internal and external lnks, and a basic security audit too.

Being a free tool GCS is an absolute no-brainer for any site owner who wants to understand better their organic and search-based reach on the internet.

Categories
Tools

Answer The Public (#15)

Continuing the theme of SEO, Keywords, and Market Research analysis tools, today’s tool is called Answer The Public.

https://answerthepublic.com/

Answer The Public is a unique graphical tool with a sophisticated user interface. Its primary sell is that you can explore what people are searching for. As they explain on their homepage:

There are 3 billion Google searches every day, and 20% of those have never been seen before. They’re like a direct line to your customers’ thoughts…

Sometimes that’s ‘How do I remove paper jam’. Other times it’s the wrenching fears and secret hankerings they’d only ever dare share with Google.

— answerthepublic.com 7/15/2020 (marketing material)

This is a somewhat profound statement if you stop to consider its implications: 1 out of 5 searches on Google is for something “never been seen before.” It’s unclear to me precisely what they mean by that (I find it doubtful they mean 20% of the searches are unique.) I assume it means are for topics that are new, for example, for any given day. That is, four out of 5 times people search on Google it is for something Google has already amassed years of knowledge on. One out of five (or 20%) are for keywords or trends that happened today, or very recently. When you search for today’s news, as everyone who uses search engines knows, you get results from recent content, which typically gives you insight into the current conversation of what you are researching.

Despite starting with this video of a slightly creepy guy nodding at you suspiciously playing on a loop (it’s really rather creepy if you keep looking at it), the tool is much more interesting once you leave the home page.

As you can see, what they are suggesting is that people will share things with Google that they wouldn’t share otherwise. From this, you can gain a deeper understanding of your market and its trends.

Here’s what happens when I search for their example word “chocolate”

It breaks your response down into questions, prepositions, comparrisons, and search terms begin with a given word.

Here we see the “questions” section, which shows me related searches broken out into why, when, who, which, where inquisition categorization (interestingly, in addition to the Five Ws and How, they also contain “are”, “will” and “can” which also categorize questions in the tool)

Here’s a view of the “preposition” for chocolate:

The “comparissons” section compares this search term with similiar or contrasting search terms.

And finally the “Alphabeticals” section which shows you all related keywords that begin with “chocolate”

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Tools

SimilarWeb (#14)

SimiliarWeb is another tool for site analysis. Like Alexa, it shows you rankings of web traffic. SimilarWeb also has powerful tools to let you compare web traffic between websites.

Also, going farther than Alexa, it shows you traffic numbers too.

You start by making an “arena”

Here I will compare wsj.com to other similiar news websites.

SimiliarWeb is a pricey tool with its cheapest plan at $199/month.

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Tools

BuzzSumo (#13)

Another trend analysis tool for today that is focused on comparative social media analysis.

Today’s tool is BuzzSumu.com and it is a fantastic tool for analyzing keywords and searches. BuzzSumo is like a search engine. However, it shows you timely content (that is, published with a date) related to your keywords. It also shows you how many people on different platforms are sharing the content.

Social View

Take a look at the BuzzSumo results for “content marketing.”

The top result is “How to Create 64 Pieces of Content Per Day” by current marketing and TikTok sensation Gary Vaynerchuk.

For this link hit from in Nov 2019, BuzzSumo tells me:

•  8000 people have engaged with it on Facebook (liked, shared or commented)

• this article got 14000+ Twitter shares,

• only 72 shares on Pinterest,

• how many people shared it on Reddit (0), and

• how many other links to this article were made across the internet (74).

Evergreen Score

Furthermore, it also shows an “Evergreen” score: This measures how much engagement it gets after 30 days in an ongoing way.

This is a measurement of how relevant it is in a long-term way, rather than temporarily relevant for a short duration.

As well, when searching for keywords, you can filter by language or country. This feature makes BuzzSumo an incredibly powerful tool for drilling into seeing who is publishing content related to your topic of interest.

This is just a small summary of a very powerful tool.

After that, other sections, like the “Discover” section, you can browse through trends (that is “buzz”) in a viewer that is more card-like. This view automatically updates in realtime!

All the Web

The content searcher lets you search by Web, YouTube, Facebook, or Backlinks.

The short pitch for BuzzSumo is:

When you want to get yourself into the conversation you need to see what people are saying. BuzzSumo is like a macro bird’s eye view into what is happening across social media channels and real-time content publishers (like blogs, media sites, etc) with sophisticated tools to let you discover trends and see what kinds of messages your market is receptive to.

It’s an invaluable tool for market research and has great potential for doing trend analysis and understanding social media.

Categories
Tools

Social Blade (#12)

Today we switch gears into a segment covering trend analysis in the context of social media.

Today’s tool is called https://socialblade.com/

Social Blade is used to analyze specific social media accounts, their followers, and see how people gaining and lose followers.

Let’s take a look at TikTok sensation Charlie D’Emelio, who has danced her way all the way to 73 MILLION followers on TikTok.

We can see that her TikTok rating A++ (she is the most famous TikToker of all time), with a whopping 8.1 million followers in the last 30 days (up 13%).

We see a chart of her weekly gain & loss of followers. We see also here how many likes her videos garner and how many videos she posts.

During this period in July, we can see that Charlie D’Emelio posts videos to TikTok approximately 1-4/times per day, taking a day off here or there.

Social Blade can be a very powerful tool to analyze not only other people’s social media but also your own brand’s: See how you’re doing across social media channels, where you are rising and falling.

Social Blade is a free tool that comes with advertising. You can get a basic premium membership for just $3.99/month to eliminate the ads. Even higher premium membership gives you access to more data, like being able to look back 365 days when doing social media analysis.

Social Blade is absolutely indispensable when doing social media analysis and market research.